Valued at $8 billion, Atlassian towers over many of Australia's biggest companies

Atlassian opens for trading. Image: Nasdaq

Atlassian’s listing on Wall Street values it around $A8 billion, bigger by market capitalisation than many of Australia’s top 200.

The Sydney-based collaboration software company ranks alongside Qantas and Crown Resorts, both ASX 200 companies, formarket capitalisation. Qantas is currently celebrating 95 years in operation. Atlassian was founded 13 years ago.

And the market value of the most successful tech IPO in the US this year is ahead of Cochlear, the Mirvac Group and energy company Santos.

Atlassian closed on the Nasdaq at $US27.78, up 32% from its IPO issue price of $21, giving a market capitalisation of about $US5.78 billion ($A7.96 billion).

The founders, 35-year-olds Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar, who went to the University of NSW together, are now worth about $A2.6 billion each.

That puts both of them among the top 20 richest Australians, as calculated by BRW, worth more than many well known veteran Australian billionaires, including retailers Gerry Harvey and Solomon Lew, and media baron Kerry Stokes.

Scott Farquhar didn’t show any surprise when the price jumped 30%, but he was stunned when his wife, three children and his parents turned up in New York unannounced.

That was the best part of his day.

“I can’t tell you how valuable our company is or isn’t,” he told Fortune. “That’s up to our investors. For us it’s about the long-term mission, which is why we have more than a dozen staff here who have been with us for more than 10 years.”

He says it’s now all about celebrating with staff and families, then it’s back to work Monday.

“It’s an exciting day, but we’re a disciplined company, and we’re disciplined people,” Cannon-Brookes said. “Whatever we were doing yesterday, keep doing that today.”

A key differentiator with Atlassian is that it doesn’t have a sales team, yet generates $320 million in revenue and has more than 50,000 customers.

It’s all about self-service, a bit like Amazon, where a sales assistant isn’t needed to buy a book.

Cannon-Brookes and Farquhar started the business in 2002 using $10,000 from a credit card.

Along the way the founders mostly resisted funding from venture capitalists or angel investors, with the exception of $60 million from Silicon Valley venture-capital firm Accel Partners in 2010, preferring instead to fund growth from the cash flow of the business.

Farquhar says he didn’t even know of the word “entrepreneur” until winning an award for it in 2006. His goal in life was to avoid having a “real job”.

Atlassian was built on five core values, reflecting the then 22-year-old founders’ ideals:

  • Open company, no bullshit.
  • Build everything with heart and balance.
  • Don’t f*** the customer.
  • Play as a team.
  • Be the change you seek.

Farquhar and Connecticut-born Cannon-Brookes have long indicated a preference for an IPO in the US, to the dismay of many Australian entrepreneurs, investors and start-up industry observers.

Atlassian executives say they chose to list in the US because investors there have a better understanding of technology companies, and Australia’s market is not as sophisticated. Listing on the Nasdaq has allowed Atlassian to join many of the world’s largest and most revolutionary companies.

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